Dumplings: Take Two

Janet's lovely, puffy dumplings.

Janet’s lovely, puffy dumplings.

In the mood for warm, comfort food recently, we made dumplings at our house, and I ended up offering you all the recipe. Janet Varnum in Bar Harbor gave them a try, and though she has found lots of other useful recipes here, she candidly wrote, “Sorry, but we did not care for them!” Janet is used to fluffier dumplings.

Janet said, “Since I grew up in Wisconsin and am of German descent, that may affect my taste.” She sent along a dumpling recipe from her mom, Ruth Witt, which is well over 70 years old.  Mrs. Witt, Janet reported, “always put these on top of sauerkraut, and we were a big family of ten on a farm, so that may account for the proportions!”

So the other night, with a bit of chicken stew on hand, I gave the recipe a try. They are fluffy and tender, form lovely, puffy clouds in the pan. Since they contain a bit of shortening and an egg, they have a biscuit-like texture. They are quite unlike the dumplings that I grew up with, and I suppose the child in me still likes damp, dense dumplings, though Janet’s are a lovely variation.

Janet “halves” her recipe by using a small egg. These dumplings cook very quickly. Give them ten minutes with a tight lid on the pan.

Fluffy Dumplings

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter or shortening

1 egg

About ¾ cup milk

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together twice. Cut in butter or shortening until the mixture looks like fine meal. Beat the egg in a measuring cup, then add enough milk to fill to the one cup line. Add the egg and milk to the dry mixture and stir until smooth. Drop by spoonful into salt water, broth, or place on top of stew. Cover pan tightly. Steam to cook ten minutes without lifting cover.

Makes eight or more servings.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.